Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Journalist threatened in CAR as rebels integrate national army

Three editors of daily newspapers in the Central African Republic have been interrogated and reprimanded for publishing negative stories about the activities of a new government police organization.

The police organization is lead by a former general in the Seleka rebel coalition that ousted the previous government in March. Mahamat Nouradine Adam and his officers have heavy handedly interrogated editors from the country's most important newspapers, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The editor of Quotidien de Bangui, Ulrich Landry Ngopkele, was interrogated on Oct. 9 and taken to an unknown location with a hood over his head and spent several hours in a cell. Nouradine interrogated him to get a source of an article he had published five days earlier headlined, "Followers of Gen. Nouradine beaten at Roux camp." Ngopkele had to apologize before his release, RSF reported.

Maka Gbossokotto, the editor of Le Citoyen, was also interrogated because the police organization accused him of getting the facts wrong in an article. The editor of Centrafrique Matin, Julien Bella, was summoned as well by the police on Sept. 30. He was questioned about an article that revealed the existence of a secret police prison. Bella was accused of destabilizing the government and he had to apologize for releasing that information, RSF reported.

The media advocacy group condemned the increase in threats that journalists face in the Central African Republic from the police group, called the Extraordinary Committee for the Defense of Democratic Achievements (CEDAD).

The watchdog said the CEDAD "should live up to its name and really defend democratic values, which include media freedom, and it should fulfill its stated mission of ensuring security, calm, and territorial integrity."

RSF called on the government of Central African Republic to continue undertaking the assurances the president made in May, when he inaugurated the World Press Freedom Day and promised no journalist would be arrested for what they reported.

The Central African Republic has been in turmoil since president Francois Bozize was ousted from office by Seleka rebels. Their leader was Michel Djotodia who has been the president since March 2013. The Seleka rebels have now been integrated to the national army, the BBC reported.

By Maria Jose Valero. 

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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